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The Property Doctor.


Q I am about to exchange contracts on a property and have been asked to provide a deposit of 20% on exchange. Is this usual?

A This most certainly is not. The seller is entitled to a deposit of 10% of the purchase price on exchange of contracts under the terms of a standard sale contract. Indeed, quite the contrary, it is rare these days that a buyer has a full 10% deposit available unless he is purchasing only, and has no related sale. In the event of a buyer having a related sale then of course any deposit would be tied up in the equity of his sale property. In addition, transactions take place so quickly these days that while there is a contractual obligation to provide 10% of the purchase price, this is usually held to the order of the selling solicitor with the full purchase price transferred by same day bank transfer on the date of completion. This ensures the seller's solicitor receives the full amount of the purchase price in cleared funds on the day of completion. Unless there are extreme circumstances, such as possibly a very protracted completion date of, say, a year, any request to pay a deposit of 20% of the purchase price on exchange of contracts should be rejected.

Q I have found a plot of land on which I want to build a house, but the nearest water supply is on the other side of a neighbouring property and I cannot access the supply anywhere else. What can I do?

A You will clearly need to arrange for your property to be connected to the nearest water supply which means you having to obtain a formal right to lay a pipe across your neighbour's land for the connection to be made. This agreement is called a Deed of Grant of Easement and will cover your right of access onto your neighbour's property to lay the pipe across his land, the right to access your neighbour's land in the future to maintain or repair the pipe, and the overall right of passage of water through this new pipe across his land. Your neighbour may want paying for allowing you to do this. It is usual for you to have to give your neighbour notice of the need to access his property to maintain or repair the pipe, although immediate access in an emergency will be allowed.

Q We have decided to extend our home rather than buy new. What sort of things should we be looking out for legally before approaching an architect?

A Increasingly, homeowners may look to extend, or improve, their existing property rather than risk the uncertainty of the current property market. As a result, issues involving party walls, nuisance to adjoining owners and the loss of light and enjoyment on the part of neighbours and allegations of nuisance and inconvenience will no doubt increase. Where you intend to build right up to the existing party wall there are now standard procedures laid down in the Party Wall Act which attempts to address contentious situations and lays down the procedure which needs to be followed. Adjoining owners can enter into a Party Wall Agreement which will deal with any issues arising during construction, and any ongoing maintenance issues. Your architect should advise on the relevance of these matters by considering the plans and any impact they may have on your neighbours. If you are in any doubt whatsoever you are strongly advised to consult your solicitor before works are begun.

Emyr Pierce is managing partner of Emyr Pierce Solicitors in Cardiff, Western Mail Conveyancer of the Year, specialising in domestic and commercial property. See
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 20, 2008
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